Still weathering its roughest crisis in more than 40 years, today’s motorcycle market is no smooth sea, but MV Agusta is one of the few companies that delivered a double-digit sales increase (38 percent) in the first quarter of 2013 over the same period one year before—and 2012 was a very good year, with sales almost double that of 2011.
With a master’s degree from the London Business School, Giovanni Castiglioni, 33, has quickly grown to full managerial maturity since he inherited his father’s seat two years ago. He is sharper, maybe a little tougher and more determined. Nevertheless, it was nice see that a large portrait of Claudio dominates the wall behind Giovanni’s desk.
Giovanni derived from his father a passion for great motorcycles and a love for the incomparable tradition of MV Agusta and for the employees that the Castiglionis have always treated with great respect and affection. Solid business-management skills have helped him boost productivity to unprecedented levels.
“First, I must say that I simply proceeded along the route that was traced by my father,” said Castiglioni. “I gave full priority to the new line of three-cylinder models because it looked right from scratch and the market confirmed it.”
MV Agusta built its present image on the F4 and Brutale inline-Fours, but shrinking Open-class sportbike sales resulted in losses that were hard to compensate for.
“In the first quarter of 2013,” said Castiglioni, “MV Agusta F4 and Brutales registered limited decline in both ‘sell in’ [factory to distributors minus 2 percent] and ‘sell out’ [distributors to customers minus 26 percent] that were overwhelmingly compensated by the sales that the F3 and related Brutales have recorded on both sides. In particular, I am proud to underline that in the same period sell out went up 333 percent, three times more than sell in, which is a sign of healthy business for our dealers. And, in turn, that means healthy business for MV Agusta.”
Castiglioni says the three-cylinder family has a lot of potential in reserve to further consolidate the company’s financial condition and market position. “MV Agusta can count on a top-class technical staff, and they are already at work to define further variations on the theme,” he said. “But first, we are giving full priority to setting up the production lines of the Rivale; there is great attention for the model, and we do not want to waste any time. Then, we might think of a more powerful F3 sportbike.”
Not far from MV Agusta, the Husqvarna factory will soon be dismantled and moved to Austria. Husqvarna was part of the old Cagiva Group. “All here in MV Agusta are very sad for the dark future of the people at Husqvarna,” said Castiglioni. “Many were part of the family before we had to sell to BMW. I must say that Husqvarna was still in good health when my father sold it, and he did it solely to focus on the MV Agusta core business.
“Husqvarna had a specific image and mission on the market, and I cannot understand why BMW did not leave it to the experienced staff there but wanted to broaden the range of models beyond the traditional and highly specialized sectors where Husqvarna had built its solid reputation: motocross, ISDT and, more recently, supermoto. To my knowledge, they invested a lot of money with poor results.
“In my opinion, they should have invested to further refine the traditional line of models, to make them the undisputed leaders in their respective fields. That would have been the only way to counter KTM dominance. BMW has all the technological knowledge it would take.
“I talked to the governor of Lombardy about the closing of the Husqvarna factory. He is mad at KTM, but at this stage, there is nothing that can be done to save it. And in my opinion, KTM is not to be blamed; their decision is rational from a business management point of view.”